14 Reasons Why It’s Not Okay to Out Someone as Trans – A Public Service Announcement From Your Friendly, Neighborhood Trans Person

Recently, a well-meaning friend of mine disclosed my trans status to a friend of his, someone I hadn’t known previously.  I don’t know that I ever would have found out that he had done so if his friend hadn’t slipped up and referred to me as “she” in front of a group of people.

He quickly corrected himself and moved on with whatever he had been saying, but for me, the damage had been done.

That one little pronoun ripped away my confidence and left me stunned and confused. Although it still happens once in a while, being seen as female has been a rare occurrence for me over the past six months, so I asked myself why this person whom I had just met would confuse me with a woman?  Was it obvious that I was trans?  Was I kidding myself, walking around in the world thinking that I no longer appeared female to most people?

Unsure as to whether the guy had read me as female/trans all on his own or whether someone had told him, I took my friend aside and asked him.  He seemed genuinely confused as to why I would have an issue with his disclosure of my trans status when he has been one of my most thoughtful, supportive friends and he was trying to be helpful.

This situation has me thinking that just because a person might be a relative, friend or ally of the trans community, or even a trans person themselves, that doesn’t mean that they know and understand the possible consequences that could result from disclosing someone’s trans status, so I am offering some information here that I hope will be helpful regarding this topic.

I thought I would start with a page from The Gender Booklet at thegenderbook.com (which I actually found at the transbeautiful blog) because it gives a handy summation of issues to consider when being an ally (or even friend or relative) of people in the trans community.


A number of blog posts could be written about the statements on this simple yet informative document page (and probably already have been by others), but today we’ll just focus on, “Please don’t out me as trans without my permission.”

In listing the reasons behind this statement, I am presenting them in no particular order or priority and I am writing them as though directed toward readers who might not understand why it’s problematic to out people as trans.

When I refer to trans folks in this post, I basically stay within the man/woman binary, but there are trans people who do not identify within the gender binary.  I think that what I have written here would, in principal, still apply, with the exception of some of the references I make to people identifying as men or women.

I should also mention that pretty much everything you’ll read here is my opinion and I do not speak for all trans people.  Your mileage may vary.

1.  Safety first
In April of 2010, Colle Carpenter, a 27-year-old trans man, was physically assaulted in a men’s room at Cal State University Long Beach, the attacker using a knife to carve the word “it” into his chest.  Two months later, a man attacked trans man Lance Reyna in a Houston Community College men’s room, putting a knife to his throat, then beating and robbing him and giving him a concussion by kicking him in the head.  In April of 2011, Chrissy Lee Polis, a 22-year-old transgender woman, was brutally attacked by two women in a Baltimore-suburb McDonald’s while employees stood by and watched, one of them filming a video of the assault that went viral after being posted on-line.  The attackers beat Chrissy so severely, she went into an epileptic seizure on the floor of the restaurant.

I provide these examples here to highlight the threat of violence that trans people face simply for being themselves, and to illustrate that outing someone as trans compromises their safety. Granted, these are high-profile incidents, but don’t think that these are isolated cases.  Aggressions against trans people occur at various levels of severity on a fairly regular basis.  I know a number of trans men and women who have been harassed and/or physically assaulted by people they had come out to or by people, including complete strangers, who had somehow learned of their trans status.  Trust me on this one; you cannot predict how anyone will react to this information, so it’s best not to disclose it.

2.  It’s private, medical information
Steps that a trans person may take to transition are recognized by the American Medical Association, other health-care organizations, the U.S. Tax Court and by many trans people as medical treatments for the misalignment of their physical sex and gender identity.  Information about a trans person’s status and/or transition should therefore be held in confidence just like any other person’s private medical issues and treatments and should not be disclosed.

3.  Not all trans people are activists and those who are might not want to be all the time
Some trans people don’t mind being in the public eye.  Trans people involved in activism may be fully and publicly out as trans, such as community activists and educators Matt Kailey, Jamison GreenKate Bornstein or Donna Rose.  However, not all trans folks want to be involved in activism – they just want to live their lives with a level  of anonymity that’s no different from that of non-trans people – and those who are involved as activists might not wish to wear that hat all the time.  Maybe in the corner of their world where you happen to be, a trans activist might want to be incognito. It’s best to leave it up to the trans person as to when and where they care to disclose their trans status, if they care to do so at all.

4.  Match making or un-making
Let’s say that a non-trans person you know has met your trans friend/relative, finds them attractive and would like to get to know them better.  Your first knee-jerk reaction might be to inform the individual about the trans status of your friend/relative, but please consider why you might be having that reaction.

Perhaps you think that the trans person’s body might not be what the other person expects, but unless you have seen the trans person naked, you do not know what their body looks like, and even if you have, how can you know with certainty that the potential suitor won’t find their body appealing?

Or maybe you decide that you will out your trans friend/relative so you can spare them the negative reaction that you’re sure they’ll receive once they disclose their trans status to the interested party.  That’s your own opinion, however.  In other words, what you might consider to be a deal breaker (i.e. someone’s trans status) might not be an issue for another person.  People are rejected in the dating scene for all sorts of reasons and these two potential love birds might not ever make it past the first date for reasons that have nothing to do with the trans status of one of them.

Ultimately, whether a trans person and a non-trans person are a match for each other should be left for them to discover.  Don’t be a match un-maker by disclosing someone’s trans status.

5.  Admirers, chasers and other people attracted to trans folks
In point number 4 above, I talk about people who might become attracted to a trans person they have just met but are unaware of their trans status.  For the issue I discuss here, I refer to certain people, non-trans men and women, who have a significant attraction to trans people in general.  Sometimes these individuals can be easily spotted vying for the attention of (or maybe even harassing or groping) trans people at transgender conferences or at public community functions, and some of them post ads on Craigslist looking for sexual hook ups and/or dates with trans men and women.

These particular folks might be classified as “chasers” or “admirers.”  While some of them objectify, sexualize and fetishize trans people, some do not.  Personally, I sometimes find it hard to tell the difference.  (Matt Kailey has written a couple of great posts about people with trans attractions and the fine line between preference versus fetish, where trans people can be either sexualized or considered sexy.)

And so if someone tells you that they are attracted to trans people and/or would like to meet a trans person for dating and/or sex, the first response should not be to tell them about any trans people whom you might know personally unless you already know how your trans friends feel about this subject.  Although some trans folks are okay with (or even prefer) dating non-trans people with trans attractions, some trans people don’t want anything to do with them, whether those with trans attractions happen to be admirers/chasers or not.  Unless you know for sure, it’s best to first ask the trans person(s) in your life whether they would be interested in being introduced to such a person.

6. When trans people don’t look male or female “enough” (to you)
If you know a transitioning trans person, the sex they were assigned at birth might be imprinted in your mind, especially if you’ve known them since an early point in their process or before they started transitioning.  Consequently, you might not have really noticed their slow physical transformation and/or you might think that despite their physical changes, they don’t really look like their true gender.  And so when you introduce the trans person to others, you might think that you have to out them as trans as a way to provide an explanation for their androgynous or gender-variant appearance.  You might think that outing them would be helpful, so people don’t get confused.

However, you’re making an assumption that everyone else sees the trans person the same way that you do and you might be wrong.  You might actually create confusion if  you out the trans person to people who already see the trans person as their true self.

And even if someone is confused about a trans person’s gender, so what?  A person’s confusion should not supersede a trans person’s privacy.  Personally, I can’t imagine an individual suffering harm from their confusion over the appearance of someone else, but outing a trans person can be harmful to them, so let the confused person muddle through. More than likely they’ll manage just fine.

7.  Because being trans is not necessarily who we are
Many trans people simply see themselves as men and women.  Being trans is not who they are – being a man or a woman is who they are.  The trans piece is a medical condition and not a definition of them as a person, so they shouldn’t be identified by it.

8.  Education, enlightenment, diversity training and the “poster child excuse”
Very early in my process a (former) friend of mine outed me to her college-aged children without my permission and then tried to justify it by making me the poster boy for her kids’ diversity training.  Since then, I have been surprised at the number of people who have wanted to do the same after I have come out to them (but at least they asked me first).

So if you have an urge to teach someone about diversity and you want to enlighten and educate them in order to help them be a better citizen and a more accepting human being, and to do it, you are going to tell them all about the trans person you know, stifle that thought.  Unless you have asked the trans person involved whether they would mind being the subject of someone’s education on humanity, it would be best to leave the trans person out of the lesson.

9.  It doesn’t matter that a trans person is out to some people
A trans person you know might seem to be out to a lot of people, and that might lead you to presume that they don’t mind being out as trans, and so that might let you assume that it would be okay to disclose their trans status to someone else, but as with other assumptions, it’s best not to make this one because you might be wrong.

10.  Outing a trans person to another trans person
On the surface, it might seem okay to tell one trans person about another trans person you know, but that would be another assumption that might be incorrect.  Each trans person should be asked whether they wish to be a subject of discussion between you and another trans person or whether they want to be introduced to the other as trans.  Believe it or not, some trans folks don’t even want other trans folks to know that they’re trans.

11.  Outing a trans person sets them up for discrimination
I don’t think that I have to convince anyone reading this blog about the existence of rampant discrimination against trans people in jobs, housing, education, health care, social services, etc.  It stands to reason, then, that outing a trans person can set them up for discrimination.  I can think of several trans men I know who lost their jobs when their trans status was revealed to the wrong people.  Once you release that information, you lose control of it and you can’t track where it goes, which might be to someone who can discriminate against the outed trans person.  Keeping their personal information safe and discreet helps the trans people you know avoid becoming the victims of discrimination.

12.  Outing a trans person can erase who they are in the eyes of others
If you disclose a trans person’s status, you can render them invisible.  It’s like magic.  One minute, the trans person is no different than any other man or woman, then they’re outed and poof, in the minds of some people, they’re immediately transformed into the gender they were assigned as birth, or they may be seen as a non-person or a fake person or someone who’s trying to fool everyone around them.  The trans person’s true self disappears and they become, in the eyes of others, someone who doesn’t even really exist.  Speaking from experience, that feels like crap.  Please don’t put people in that position by outing them as trans.

13.  Disclosing the birth names of trans people
This point is a bit different from the others because it’s about outing one thing about a trans person, but it fits into the topic of disclosure. I have decided to add it here because a number of non-trans people over the past few years have nonchalantly disclosed to me the birth names of other trans people that they know.

What they likely did not realize was that some trans people fiercely guard the name they were given at birth and would consider its disclosure to be embarrassing, hurtful and/or offensive.  For some trans folks, their birth name represents a person who they are not and a period of their life they would like to leave behind them.

All that aside, what is the point of revealing a trans person’s birth name anyway?  A trans person’s real name is the one they have chosen that matches their gender and true self and that’s the only name that people need to know.

Therefore, unless a trans person has specifically and directly asked you to please disperse their birth name about with wild abandon, the polite and respectful thing to do would be to keep it to yourself if you happen to know it.

14.  Whose business is it anyway?
Ultimately, the bottom line is that a person’s trans status is their personal information, their history, their story, their life, and it’s not anyone else’s place to disclose it.

The only instances I can think of when it would be okay to out someone as trans would be if the trans person specifically requested it, say, for example, during their coming out process and they asked a trusted friend or relative to help inform people, or if they were involved in some sort of medical emergency and couldn’t speak for themselves, and for the latter I’d still be hesitant.

And with that, we come to the end of 14 reasons why outing a trans person is not okay.  I hope that this little public service announcement has helped to shed some light on this topic for readers who previously might not have realized these issues.  Some readers might disagree with some of my points or might have points of their own to add. I invite everyone to join the discussion.

–ATM

About these ads
This entry was posted in Commentary, Narrative and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

228 Responses to 14 Reasons Why It’s Not Okay to Out Someone as Trans – A Public Service Announcement From Your Friendly, Neighborhood Trans Person

  1. Matt Kailey says:

    Excellent post. Honestly, I think some people are just bursting to tell their friends that they know a trans person. It’s like this really great piece of gossip that they think will make them appear interesting/cool/hip/open-minded/liberal and all their friends will go “Oooh” – but they can’t tell anyone! I’m totally out, as everyone knows. But that doesn’t mean I want to be someone’s “trans friend.” I can always tell when someone has told his/her friends about me before I meet them. The vibe is just there.

    • Hi Matt. Yeah, I know the vibe you’re talking about. I actually felt it during the evening I mentioned at the beginning of my post. And you’re spot on about some people wanting to tell that they know a real live trans person.

      Thanks for the nice comments.

    • Oh yeah! Definitely.
      I recall a friend identifying me as her ‘trans friend’ (with pride and excitement of course) to others when I was a teenager.

    • Kat N says:

      I think sometimes people “tell on” trans folks as a way to explain that they’re actually trans rather than just cross-dressers. It’s pretty obvious that something’s different.

      • As though there’s something wrong with being “just” a cross dresser that it has to be explained? That’s no reason to out someone as trans, especially when cross dressers are “actually” trans too.

  2. Zander Keig says:

    Reblogged this on Zander's Blog and commented:
    Wise words by a friend!!

  3. Zander Keig says:

    Thank you, ATM!!!!

  4. Gonna reblog this. Very well done.

  5. Reblogged this on theadventuresoftransman and commented:
    Excellent piece on not outting someone as trans. Keep your friends and loved ones safe by respecting their privacy.

  6. trisha1den says:

    I am going to re- blog this because I liked it. The difficult part of this for me is learning how to not care whether the world knows or not. In my case the cat is out of the bag. I am living an andro life right now during my transition. Its a challenge enough since my family has out’ed me. My spouse and I are trying to make the transition as uncomplicated as possible but at the end of the day its going to be pretty common knowledge. That’s where learning how to not care about this (so much) is more the challenge. :)

    • Hi Trisha. Thanks for the comments and for re-blogging my post. I take that as a nice compliment.

      As for learning how not to care so much about… fill in the blank with just about any aspect of this process, including being known as a trans person. Yeah, been there, in a number of ways. I can only tell you from my own experience, it came with time and was correlated with how comfortable I felt with myself. Once I got in a better space about that, I stopped really giving a damn what other people think because, guess what, I’m not going anywhere and I deserve to be here and live my life as I see fit, just like everyone else.

      So here’s wishing you a journey to an increasingly better place and comfort level, in all ways.

    • Tristan Lee says:

      Hi Trisha. I feel your pain on trying to deal with transitioning while married.
      My ,now, ex-husband has told my son that he will never refer to me by my new name. That hurts a lot because I am just trying to be true to myself and that is one of the main reasons I decided to leave him. He is only attracted to women and I didn’t think it was fair to him if we stayed together because then he would be looked at as being a gay man.
      As crazy as it sounds, I still love him but only as a good close friend. There isn’t anything sexual there anymore.
      I loved this post ATM, thank you for sharing.

      • trisha1den says:

        Tristan – ty for the comment. I’ve got a great wife. I think the success and love are well intact because I’ve been out to her — at least xdressing since we were engaged. Although it wasn’t until maybe 5-6yrs into marriage that I started back exploring even then I told her. Honesty has certainly been the best policy. TY again for your thoughtful post :)

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Trisha, i hope you dont mind, but i looked at your photos and going from left to right I liked the second one the best. they all were good, i just liked that one the best. You are very beautiful.Best wishes to you and a wonderful life.

  7. pinkagendist says:

    Very nicely and thoughtfully said ;D

  8. Jack says:

    Fantastic! This’ll be one of the materials I pass along to people who want to learn more about trans issues.

  9. Great post! As a trans-supporter, your article has definitely given some things to think about. No one wants to hurt a friend in any way. Maybe the best way to sum up the article is for trans allies just to keep their mouths shut when it comes to their friend’s gender and sexuality. Let them do the talking and follow their lead.

    • Thanks Cristy for the positive comments. Yes, I suppose that’s one way to sum up my post. Maybe the bigger message is that perhaps all of us should let everyone tell their own story, trans and non-trans alike.

  10. J.C. Prime says:

    Reblogging, if that’s OK… Excellently put, and very comforting to read. (I also know people who would, sadly, relish the chance to use my trans status to gain some brownie points in certain circles, so it’s nice to be reminded that I shouldn’t just shut up and be grateful they still “put up with me”!)

    • Yes, J.C., quite alright to reblog. Glad this is helpful and supportive – no, you don’t have to “settle” for anything, if I may paraphrase. Other people don’t, so why should we?

  11. J.C. Prime says:

    Reblogged this on The Oddball Mentality and commented:
    Excellently-worded explanation here. While it sometimes saddens me that they need to be said out loud (or the blogging equivalent, anyway), all points made here are extremely valid, and worth noting.

  12. junoroche says:

    Excellent post; so many truths, so many hurtful things start from the use of a wrong pronoun. Thanks for taking the time to post such a valuable piece, the question is how do we get the masses to read it?
    Juno

    • Well, Juno, that’s a question I hadn’t pondered, to be honest. And thanks for posing it and your kind comments.

      When I wrote the post, I was thinking on the level of hoping that this would be helpful to some people, whatever “some” happened to be. I hadn’t even thought about “the masses.”

      I don’t have much of an imagination about this sort of thing. I guess I would hope that it’s a grassroots kind of thing where the post is passed along as needed and spreads organically. Do you have any thoughts about it?

      • deja says:

        I think you can help the spread of this very worthwhile essay to a bigger world by linking it in resposes to positive trans related stories you find in the mainstream press that touch on the outing issue …. Huffington Post comes to mind, for example, as they feature positive trans stories quite regularly. … and HP’s (largely progressive and liberal) readership is, of course, in the millions. (of course it may also invite a bit of trolling, but it will surely reach a large audience of allies and closeted souls.)
        Leaving it to spread “organically” will get you a wide readership in the trans community, but that’s singin’ to the choir, ain’t it? It’s our allies that really need to understand your points.

        • Thank you deja. That’s a good point. I’ve always been hesitant about promoting my own blog that way and hope, instead, that the readers would promote it through different methods, including the one you suggested.

          However, I will say that the majority of the comments I’ve received about this post (I think,but haven’t actually counted) have indeed been from non-trans allies,including lesbians and gay men. I also think that members of the trans community forward this post to their friends and family to get the message out there. Still, I hear what you’re saying.

  13. junoroche says:

    I kind of agree with the organic thing and letting it spread by recommendation but also I work as the trans rep for a large union in the UK and am always looking for useful bits to use to promote good practises towards trans issues and trans people. I found it really instructional and could see it being useful.
    Juno

  14. Reblogged this on transbeautiful and commented:
    Perfectly stated.

  15. This is the most clear and complete elaboration of this point I have seen in a long time (ever?). Thanks for the hard work you put into it.

  16. I think something you forgot is that most people that are being labelled as Transgender don’t identify with the word or the LGBT. The LGBT is causing those of us who do not wish to be associated with the LGBT or its queer terminology harm and violating our civil rights. I don’t wish to be out but to fight Transgender abuse of those of us that don’t identify as Transgender and don’t wish to be segregated into the LGBT I will stay out. NCTE claims 715,000 “Transgender people” but they have less than 1% of that amount in facebook likes. The LGBT way overplays its importance and its time America learns it doesn’t speak for all of us and its not okay to label all of us Transgender. As a woman born Transsexual I view the LGBT as my biggest bully and its time for you all to stop or be prepared for a trip to the woodshed.

    • Hi Lisa, I’m the mom of a 14 year old transgender son and i find your comment interesting and somewhat confusing. I’m especially curious about this statement: “I view the LGBT as my biggest bully” and would love to read further explanation on that if you don’t mind. Please know that i’m not trying to start any sort of debate; I’d just like to understand your comment better and learn from you. Thanks.

      • transbeautiful, if you would like to know more about the topic (may I call it a movement?) that Lisa is referring to, one place to go would be to Ashley Love’s blog and those of her colleagues who want to move transsexuals out from under the transgender umbrella and out of the GLBT community. You can find Ashley’s blog here: http://transformingmedia.blogspot.com/

        • Thanks transman. I’ve been doing some reading at the blog you mentioned as well as some Googling and am still not fully clear, but i think i have a better understanding (although i don’t exactly “get it”).

          • Yeah, it’s not so evident at first. I’ve been thinking of writing a blog post about this topic but I cringe at the fallout/flaming potential. :-p

          • amym440 says:

            Transbeautiful I’m not aligned with Ashley love or the other so called seperatist. I take a different approach to this. All my life I’ve identified as female and was born Transsexual. I’m also attracted to men. I’m not sure if your aware of this but Transsexuals sexual orientation is based on their listed birth sex. So if your son is attracted to females and is Transsexual he’ll be classified as a homosexual transsexual even if he views himself as a heterosexual male. Transgender helps to support this thinking in several ways. First it refers us back to the listed birth sex we’ve been working to correct all our lives. By refering us back to that birth sex it gives justification to those who base sexual orientation on our birth sex.Refering us back to our listed birth sex is also in my opinion a form of denying the validity of our cross sex identity and need to transition as fully as possible towards our identified sex. Then it forces us into a political association with the LGBT which I think is a very obvious civil rights violation. Just because a few Transsexuals, Cd’s and Tv’s wish to be politically banded together what gives them the right to force the rest of us into their political organization or associations? I think in the very near future you’ll be seeing this taken to the courts since after many years the LGBT is continuing to send the public a false message and by bullying us on the internet. By bullying us I mean doing anything possible to try and discredit us. By generally taking the attitude that they could care less that by forcing us into their alliance they are causing us added stygma and lowering our self worth by taking our rights to individuality away.

            • Hi amym440, when you say: “I’m not sure if your aware of this but Transsexuals sexual orientation is based on their listed birth sex. So if your son is attracted to females and is Transsexual he’ll be classified as a homosexual transsexual even if he views himself as a heterosexual male.” — Classified by whom? Who bases his sexual orientation on birth sex? Who is making that judgement? In my opinion, no one has the right to make that determination but my son. Anyone else’s opinion on the matter is irrelevant.

              We’ve already had his name legally changed, our state allows for both name and gender marker to be changed on the birth certificate and with social security, he plans to have hormone therapy and eventually surgery. As far as i can tell from my reading, it is Transgender legal organizations and in some cases LGBT organizations who have pushed for the laws that will enable my son to do this. None of the people we have met in the LGBT community where we live are treating him as less than anyone else within the organization. I actually cannot imagine where the transgender and/or transsexual people that i know personally would be without the local LGBT orgs to support them. Here in the rural South, U.S., we all have to stand up for each other. We partner with racial minority groups as well because we all know what it’s like to be bullied, discriminated against, and hated just for existing.

              Thank you for sharing your perspective. I’m sorry you’ve had negative experiences and feel that you are being bullied or that your rights are being taken away. That hasn’t been my experience. I wish you the best.

              • amym440 says:

                Just so you know Transbeautiful I am also Lisa McDonald, Amym440 was my activist name for years. You can also google amym440 where hopefully you’ll see I tried for years to work with the LGBT and its only been in the last year or so that I’ve decided to just give up and go public with my experiences with them. I have given lectures to college classes and am currently writing college papers on Transsexual vs Transgender and have never received less than an A for any of them.

              • pinkagendist and transbeautiful, I’m sorry to have all of the comments on moderate but I respectfully asked Lisa to move this discussion somewhere else (like to her own blog) and her response was to post four more lengthy comments here. I have approved one to post here but am keeping the others back so as not to prolong this thread.

                Although I think that this is a worthwhile discussion to have, it’s her discussion and not in keeping with the topic of the blog post. I sent Lisa an email yesterday suggesting that she continue the conversation with you at her blog or by email and told her I would post a comment by her inviting you all to do that but she has not replied yet. If she does, I will post her comment here.

                If you want to read more about Lisa’s views and comments, you can click on her login name (amym440) and the link will take you to her blog. I can also provide you with the comments the both of you typed out on this blog so you don’t have to retype them if you would like to post them on her blog.

                Thank you for the thoughtful replies and questions to her thread.

    • pinkagendist says:

      Hi, Lisa
      I’m terribly sorry you feel that way. Perhaps it’s a matter of where you live versus where I live, but where I live trans people are full members of our LGBTQ community. In fact, they’re standard bearers in the struggle for equality. European trans people like professor Marie-Pier Ysser, performers like April Ashley and Coccinelle and activists like Carla Antonelli (http://www.carlaantonelli.com) have all been major players in the LGBT struggle. It is so because historically trans people didn’t really have the option of conforming and pretending not to be trans, so they became symbols. Following their lead, all of us who were marginalized joined each other in our fight for respect and acceptance. We are stronger united than divided.

    • Ah, a transsexual separatist. I wondered when one of you would wander over to my blog. While I do not agree with you, Lisa, I respect your right to your opinion. However, your comment is not directed toward the topic of the blog post, so I would prefer that a debate around your comment not erupt here.

      One thing that your comment does prompt me to do is to add a line in my post that I do not speak for all trans people, which only seems fair because all trans people do not speak for me.

      • Sadly enough, people who are anxious to disclose their trans friend or family member’s trans status to the world at large would probably use your “I only speak for myself” disclaimer to say, “Well, a random trans person on the Internet says not to do it, but I’m sure my cousin (or whatever) totally won’t mind!” and then disregard the advice.

        • Hey man, nice to hear from you. You may be right, but I think I covered by saying that I don’t speak for all trans people rather than I only speak for myself. Then anyone reading would still need to consider the possibility that I might be speaking for the trans person they know.

      • amym440 says:

        First American Transman how can I be a seperatist from something I never gave my consent to join? How is dragging all Transsexuals into the LGBT recognizing our identies or our rights to individuality? I view myself as a heterosexual woman that simply got off to a different start in life. All the rights I needed have been in place in Iowa since before the L a ndG even joined together let alone the LGBT. I don’t need gay marriage but I support same sex marriage. Its time for the LGBT to get over itself and acknowledge they don’t speak for anywheres near the majority when it comes to same sex attraction or sex identity. The conversation about Transsexuality belongs only to transsexuals not to the LGBT or the entire Transgender movement. Its not okay to tell people that its okay to call all of us Transgender matter of fact by doing so you are violating my rights. Its also not okay for you to belittle me because I hold a different opinion than you thats bullying.

        • amym440, I did not make up the term “transsexual separatist.” I’m only using it as it was explained to me. If you don’t want to be aligned with that term, then don’t. I also never told anyone that it was okay to call all of us Transgender. I never said anything of the sort. As for belittling and bullying you, I’m not sure how that’s possible since this is the first time I have ever addressed you. I have already stated that Lisa, and now you by default, have a right to your opinion just as I have a right to mine.

          I will tell you the same thing I told Lisa – this topic has nothing to do with the blog post in discussion and so I would ask that y’all take this discussion somewhere else.

  17. Joe Pineda says:

    I’ve never had an interaction with a trans-person in my entire life besides the internet, so this post was extremely important for me. I don’t think ignorance should excuse hurting others emotionally.

    • elliot says:

      just want to point out that you actually have no idea whether or not you have interacted with a trans person IRL. i would bet that at some point, you probably have, but just didn’t read them as trans because they didn’t “look like a trans person,” whatever that means to you.

      also to the OP — yesyesyes #8 x a million

      • Joe Pineda says:

        I don’t think that’s the issue. There’s hardly anything of a trans community in Mexico, is what I’m saying. Different cultures and everything.

        • Hi Joe. If I may chime in, I’m not sure what you mean when you say there’s not much of a trans community in Mexico, whether you mean that there aren’t many trans people in general or whether you mean that there are but they aren’t very visible and don’t “congregate” for lack of a better term. But there are definitely trans people in Mexico, no more or less than anywhere else, as transsexualism and transgenderism is a natural human phenomenon. It’s more than likely that you have interacted with trans people but just didn’t know it at the time, either because they were passing very well or not expressing their true gender. If there is significant discrmination and oppression of trans people in Mexico (which I have no idea about one way or another) that would tend to induce trans people to try to stay under the radar.

          • Joe Pineda says:

            Mexican society is really intolerant and ignorant towards that issue. I think I’m even accidentally showing signs of that LOL

            In any event, there ARE trans people here, undoubtedly, but I believe the entire social situation forces them to stay under the radar. Even so, I don’t rule out the possibility of having met a trans person. It just seems highly unlikely.

  18. putergurl says:

    Excellent article/blog! Many awesome comments too!

    I could tell the great pains you took to put this as democratically and inoffensively as possible. I have to wonder how many people will still read it and say to themselves, “Gee, what a bitchy tranny!”. It doesn’t get any nicer than this people!

    #14 applies MOST of all, and Cristy said it best. It’s not your cotton-pickin’ business, just leave it alone! Your position as my friend, ally, fellow transperson, social group member, or whatever connection we have, no matter how well meaning you think you are; it does NOT give you a free ticket to disclose for a transperson under any circumstance without the transperson’s explicit permission, and for that exact circumstance only. Not for any other!

    • Thank you putergirl for your positive comments and your feedback and insight.

      Regarding the potential defensive thoughts around my attempt at inoffensive diplomacy, shall we say, of my post, I hadn’t really thought of it the way you suggested, but I suppose that could happen. I wonder that if anyone did have that kind of response, it would be because they see themselves and their actions in what I wrote.

      To be honest, I’m not trying to point the finger at anyone with my post. When I wrote it, I was thinking of a number of people whom I know, people I care about and who care about me but who have made some slip-ups because they are simply uninformed, or perhaps even a bit thoughtless, but still caring and well-meaning. Those are the types of people I’m trying to reach, because the ones who are just downright malicious, mean-spirited, self-absorbed or plain ol’ assholes probably wouldn’t take to heart what I’ve written here anyway.

    • They will say “Bitchy tranny” no matter what. The only way for a trans person not to be one (for *some* cis people) is to let them do as much walking on trans people as they want without saying anything.

  19. A curious thing happened to me just last week at an Office supply outlet. The store had few customers and I was the only customer within earshot of a checkout girl who outed me as trans and asked me how long I had been out at the same time she showed me her rainbow colored nails. She then asked me if I had participated in any “Pride” events and I said no but that I had watched some and was involved with LGBT issues at least online and lived with a gay man. At first, I felt like I had a new ally and at the same time I don’t feel that it is currently my intention of presenting myself as anything other than being as female as the next woman. I will probably run into her again as I live in a small town and would likely shop at that store as any other store of that genre and I’m not sure how I might want to deal with her should again we meet. While I’m not particularly bothered by the incident, I am still sensitive to how even well-intentioned people, which I took her to be, could also be a problem to people in the trans community which I don’t even consider that I am a part because as far as I and anyone else should be concerned, I am a woman, plain and simple.

  20. leftytgirl says:

    Thanks for writing this, I think it’s really powerful, and written in a way that most anyone should be able to relate to.

    I would like to make an additional comment on point 4: when a cis person ‘outs’ a trans person to another cis person who might be romantically interested in the trans person, it introduces a cissexist bias with the knowledge of someone being trans. In other words, the person who suddenly finds out this person is trans is receiving a second message: it’s *important* for you to know that this person is trans… this message could be interpreted to mean that a cis person will be judged by others for dating a trans person, or it could simply be interpreted as questioning the authenticity of that cis person’s genuine attraction.

    • That’s a good point, leftytgirl, that I hadn’t considered. I always think about the aspect of “how will my sexual orientation appear to others” when considering non-trans partners of trans people who come out and transition, but I haven’t thought about it in the context of people who meet a transitioned trans person for the first time in the context of dating.

  21. Maz Knight says:

    Hi ATM, I have enjoyed reading this post and I would like to ask you if I could use it as the basis of a series of articles for my internet radio show on Planet Maz Radio http://www.planetmazradio.moonfruit.com which is a radio station that was set up to promote acceptance and understanding of trans people. I would credit you with original authorship but expand on each point for the show. If you want to know more please email thisisplanetmaz@gmail.com and I thank you for a great post.

    • Interesting Maz!
      Er, why not invite me onto your show to discuss it with you… ;)

      I’ll be in London next week (not sure if that’s where you’re located)

      • Maz Knight says:

        I would love to have you on my show but I am 130 miles from London in a country town called Yeovil in Somerset and I am unable to travel at the moment. I still say that there is a series of articles here with a lot more to say on the very valid points that you raise. I do hope that you agree. I would lookat it as a collaboration between the two of us.

        • I’m definitely interested. Let’s talk more by email. I might be a bit slow on that right now because I’m traveling, but I will be able to respond Sunday. (I’m on a friend’s computer right now.)

  22. mel says:

    thank you for this. i’m gonna get super humble here and say this was a really important thing for me to read, because all my gender theory studies and activism and yadda yadda EGO has apparently blinded me a little bit to the fact that when i think i’m being open and honest with friends and classmates i might actually be inadvertently pulling some wretched shit on my boyfriend, someone i love and cherish completely on his own individual merit. and i might not be, but the point is i *need to ask him*.

    • a long time transguy with a degree in gender studies and a history of transactivism says:

      Gender studies and activism are all good, but most of that is preparation for the real world and actual praxis, which is often a different story than what you learned in books and classes. Very good of you to have some humility about it and learn a little more about this.

  23. Tania says:

    Thank you so much! I recently dated someone who was trans and found it difficult to answer some of the questions everybody had. A lot of my friends were kinda confused because I am lesbian. I did ask permission to tell some of my close family and was told it was ok. I also had to tell them that as far as anyone was concerned he was still very much a man and I didn’t care if that meant that now in everyones eyes I was heterosexual. I never asked what his birth name was. It didn’t matter to me. I am still very close to him even though we are no longer dating and ironically enough when I get asked if I’ve ever been with a guy I always tell every one his name.

    • Thank you Tania for these comments. I actually started to write something in my blog post to address exactly what you are describing, but decided to leave it out because the post was getting so long, but this is a good point you bring up. If you get questions and you want to respect the privacy of the trans person, how do you address the questions? And even if you tell people that your date is trans, if you see him as a man and not as a very butch woman, then wouldn’t the fact that he’s trans be a moot point aat nyway? That discussion could be its own blog post. I think Matt Kailey has written a bit about this topic – he’s more eloquent and insightful than I am on that sort of thing.

      • Sarah says:

        I’ve been in this situation too, and it wasn’t until afterwards that I realized I had accidentally outed my partner by talking about how I saw my gender in relation to theirs. I felt pretty horrible once I realized how careless I was being with protecting hir identity, but at the same time I am someone who needs to do external processing with trusted friends and at the time it felt relevant to mention that my current partner did not identify as a man or a woman but something in between. In retrospect, I think I should have asked first, like Tania did, but it’s sometimes hard to remember that when I’m feeling confused about my own identity and want to talk about that with someone else. I’ve been wondering for a while now how to be better about this in the future and it’s definitely something I know I need help working on. I’ve never heard of Matt Kailey before, but I definitely want to check out any insights he might have on this topic. Thanks for sharing!

        • You’re welcome, and best wishes with your introspection. As for Matt Kailey, he’s very good at providing thoughtful and balanced commentary on trans issues. I hope you enjoy reading his work.

  24. Hey there, I agree with everything you said apart from the poster child thing.
    Personally, I think the normality everyone wishes to strive for is a myth, set up by the media. We are ALL poster childs for something or the other and most of the time, you have people going through similar things who stay silent and don’t talk. I for one grew up is a domestic abuse househole and so did three of my closest friends but none of us spoke to it to one another and all dealt with it alone. It wasn’t until we were older that one of us broke and confronted the others and we all showed our cards.
    We did it the hard way and really didn’t have to because we thought we would be less in the eyes of the others and we all ended up suffering more because of it.
    Now I do agree that it is up to someone who has gone through something to vocalise their own predicament as their own accord, however, once out, I think one should embrace it. Our past makes us who we are but we are not defined by it.
    We only let people define us if we don’t fill in the blanks of our own personalities and stay as an it rather than becoming a ‘who’. I understand this because i’ve been objectified many a time by race and have people making assumptions on me that I can’t control, even before they’ve met me, let alone what other’s have said. But I’ve been taught to be myself and while most people who meet me will initially assume one thing, I always make sure they leave thinking another. That’s the only way to really overcome any perception based prejudice.
    I dunno, maybe that’s holistic of me but you can’t change the world without educating people and the first way to do it is via personal interaction with what is really is normal, the beautiful deviations from textbook noramlity.
    But once again, thumbs up and thanks for the thought process

    • Thanks Novembre Pleut for this discussion. I guess off the cuff my response would be that every person has their own comfort level with outing themselves and educating others and the right to live according to that comfort level. But that doesn’t dimish what you have done either – congrats on getting your story out there.

  25. SP says:

    I really appreciate you writing this. As a gender-non-conforming cis woman with ties to the queer activist community in the Pacific NW, I’ve wrangled up a few trans friends myself. All who are very out and very active themselves, but regardless… As I was reading this I was immediately reminded of a recent incident where I outed a close to friend to another friend. While they are almost guaranteed to never meet, and while my trans friend is quite open about it, I had an uneasy feeling in my stomach during the whole conversation and ignored it, whether for the sake of appearing open or for queer street cred I can’t say. So anyways, your article here made me really confront it, head on and will hopefull help me set some clearer boundaries for myself. I know this shit isn’t your job, and that there’s so much potential for backlash, but I for one am so thankful that you are writing. Thanks.

  26. Pingback: On the issue of well-meaning allies | I am Deanna

  27. Dreki says:

    “Or maybe you decide that you will out your trans friend/relative so you can spare them the negative reaction that you’re sure they’ll receive once they disclose their trans status to the interested party. ”

    This should include a note of “In this case, you should warn your trans friend that being with this person could put them at risk instead of outting them and putting them at that risk”. The assumption of “You only htink that because YOU HATE TRANS PEOPLE HOW DARE YOU ASSUME EVERYONE IS LIKE YOU” instead of acknowledging “Sometimes people think this because they KNOW their friend/relative is anti-trans”.

    • Thanks for your comment Dreki. I’m not sure that I follow exactly what your point is, but to be clear, I never said anything in my post about anyone hating anybody and I don’t want to imply that.

  28. Pingback: 14 Reasons Why It’s Not Okay to Out Someone as Trans- by American Trans Man

  29. Drop Snow says:

    Excellent post, thank you. Really important, informative, and essential reading.

  30. Constance says:

    I think that, for some people, hanging with transgender people is akin to slumming. “Hey, look everybody, I’m cool cuz I’m gettin’ down wif da transfolk!” And then, of course, they go back to the country club to tell their “not-so-diverse” friends how open and accepting they, themselves are. I won’t mention names here, as I wouldn’t want to out anyone as being a “hip-ocrite”. As the old song goes, “She won’t dish the dirt with the rest of the girls, That’s why the lady is a tramp (trans).”

  31. Mohini says:

    Basically, this sums up to ‘mind your own business and use some common sense’ which shouldn’t need to be said. Since it does, I’m glad you said it, and so well too!

  32. Pingback: Lazy Sunday: Trap! | Sincerely, Natalie Reed

  33. Eels says:

    My friend, thank you. I was able to show a friend of mine today why it is important that he shouldn’t do this. On the other hand, I think it should also be pointed out that one must not ‘out’ someone as trans if they’re wearing clothes socially acceptable to their birth sex. I have been on the end of both of these things.

  34. northstargirl says:

    Beautifully done. I could have used this some time ago, as I learned a former acquaintance used to do the whispered “she’s transgendered” thing to people who were going to meet me, or who had met me. I couldn’t figure out if it was a way for that former friend to explain why I was “different” (as if I really am that different anyway), or to make herself look good for having friends from the trans community, or what the reason was, but I was furious when I found out. Thank you for this post, which says these things more elegantly than I’m able.

    • I’ve gotten behind in answering the comments but I would like to thank everyone for contributing to the discussion. For those of you who have been outed in the past without your permission, I know how that feels and I hope that this blog post stops that from happening for at least some trans people if they can give the information to their friends, family and allies.

  35. wendykh says:

    I think the “match unmaker” can be a valid concern if you know your friend is not accepting of trans persons. I know it’s easy to say “why is this person your friend?” but I think we all have “friends” in our lives who have less than enlightened views on something or other. I do have friends I know for a fact would come back to me and say “omg you bitch why didn’t you tell me she wasn’t a real girl?! Making a fucking joke of me were ya?!” and get really shitty about it. Now, personally I don’t care if they were mad at *me* over such a thing but I don’t want to deal with their ugly reaction and how they’d spread it all over. And while one can say it’s deciding for them, there are simply some people who are not transfriendly, at all. BUT! How about instead… tell your transfriend. “Listen, my buddy Jen, she asked for info about you. She’s interested. But I need to tell you honestly she’s said some transphobic things before and I don’t want you to ever be in an uncomfortable position because I gave someone your number. Do you want me to give your number or lose her?”

  36. Pingback: It’s not okay to out… | It's not about the clothes

  37. Pingback: It’s not okay to out… | It's not about the clothes

  38. Here is something I told a friend: Before you out your trans friend, think about them. About who they are, what they look like, how long you’ve known them – Now imagine you ripping all their clothes off in front of the person you’re talking to. That, in essence, is what you’re doing to them. If that doesn’t strike you as something that’s okay to do, do not out your trans friend.

  39. Zane says:

    Brilliant article. Unfortunately, most of it is likely to happen to me…
    I think because everyone lnows I’m trans, (since when I came out I also came out on Facebook) that everyone will assume that it’s okay to out me because everyone knows I’m trans anyway. Ugh. How on earth would I stop this happening?

    • Wow, Zane, that’s tough. I know how you feel – I have been there before (still am I guess). You could post a link to this blog post on Facebook and just ask everyone to read it and not out you in the future.

  40. hivdatf says:

    We have reposted this to the Los Angeles County HIV Drug & Alcohol Task Force website. This will be very useful to service providers. Thank you.

  41. Quick question for any transgendered folks out there: I’m not trans, but I have a good friend who is and it seems to me that he is only “trans” during his transition. I fully intend – and already do – to just treat him as a man when he feels that his transition is done, not a “trans man.” We discussed this the other day and I asked him, “Is your goal to be a man or a trans man?” I would think that most of the trans people out there just want to be considered a man or a woman (excluding those who don’t relate to the gender binary), not a trans man or trans woman? I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this. Maybe I’m way off base here, but I definitely don’t think the whole trans thing should define anyone.

    • Hi Cristy,
      This is a good question. I made a couple references to this concept in my blog post. Others might reply about this in more detail so I won’t say much.

      However, I would caution agaist assuming that “most of the trans people out there” would want to be considered one way or another. The term “most” denotes a quanitity and trans people are not so easily counted. The better way to phrase it would be to say that you imagine that “some” trans people would want to be considered this way.

      Also, a slight formatlity, we are transgender people, not transgendered. “Transgendered people” is like saying “gayed men”or “lesbianed women.”

      Anyway, thank you for the question and comments.

      • And thanks for the info. Good to know the formalities – I’m sure you’ve already saved me from embarrassing myself in the future.

      • maddox says:

        I’m going to add that even those of us who fall outside the binary would *ideally* (in a perfect world) rather not be considered “trans” and instead just as our gender – ie “just me” instead of “trans me.” The problem of course is that this gender does not exist in people’s minds (yet), so we are forced to transgress man and woman and be transgender instead….

  42. J says:

    :-) Just wanted to say hi. I can see this blog post has touched many people. Oh Ethan, such powerful words.

    • Hi J. Good to hear from you.

      Yes, this blog post has received over 7000 hits since it was posted last week and they just keep coming. And the comments have been awesome. I’m overwhelmed by it all to be honest.

  43. Neal says:

    14 reasons to forgives your friends because they love you, but make mistakes.

  44. madfoot says:

    This is really wonderful article. i can’t wait to share it with my friends and family. Another complexity in this whole discussion is how much do parents of transitioning kids tell other adults who are going to be around those kids. I just deleted a much longer post that wasn’t really germane and probably deserves its own post.

    I would add to this that when you are talking to the parent of a kid you know is trans, you keep to the same rule! I barely know you, I’m not about to discuss hormone treatments or my child’s junk with your nosy self!

  45. madfoot says:

    oh oh oh another thing! that thing that people alllllways always say about “oh I just worry that people will be confused?” (point number six) for crap’s sake. people can survive being confused. there are plenty of people born one gender or another who seem “mannish” or “girly.” so what? SO. WHAT. let people be confused and if they are rude little nosy noodles, just channel Miss Manners and change the subject till they get the hint.

  46. Pingback: April 22 « tea time for the soul

  47. maddox says:

    Here’s my problem though: A lot of this stuff I get from people who don’t know I’m trans, ie the “what’s your real/original/birth name?” is a BIG one for me. HOW do I tell them this is not an appropriate question to ask, without outing myself as trans? (Because obviously passing along this article and saying “see, this is why you shouldn’t ask me that” kind of outs myself.)

    I smell a new article…. “How to deflect inappropriate questions trans people get without outing yourself”

  48. Thanks Maddox for the comment and question.

    I had an acquaintance whose daughter legally changed her name to Rhiannon when she turned 18 because she liked the name from the Fleetwood Mac song (which tells you how long ago this was). That’s just one example, but people change their names for all sorts of reasons and curious people are going to ask questions about that. In your case, however, if you are being asked about your name because it doesn’t match your perceived gender/sex, how to deflect the question? Well, you could answer like my friend’s daughter probably did: you chose that name because you like it. That’s all anyone needs to know. If they press, a reply of, “I think I just answered the question” with a disarming smile might get them to leave you alone about it.

    That’s for the curious folks. For the ones who are being rude assholes, you can leave out the disarming smile.

    • j says:

      How about “My parents were preparing for a girl; they only listed girls names. When I grew older I changed it.” Believe me I know parents who are so stuck on a particular name, they lose all sense of reason. My cousin was named for her father who died. So she went on her whole life with a masculine name.

      • That’s a good point J, although I believe in Maddox’s case, Maddox was assigned female at birth, is sometimes perceived as female and has chosen what could be considered a male name, so if asked about that, Maddox could reply, “My parents were expecting a boy and only chose boy names,” and leave it at that. One issue with this type of statement, however, is that it’s a lie, and some folks don’t want to defend their privacy with lies. They shouldn’t have to, really.

  49. amym440 says:

    American Transman I am busy doing my college finals they end this week. As soon as they are done I will take a couple of days to put together a well cited response to what was discussed here on my blog and send you a message that it is up.
    Lisa

  50. i absolutely agree with your 14 reasons why it’s not ok to out a trans person to someone. i understand the pain trans people are going through as i am going through myself. i hate it when someone refer me as my assigned gender at birth. every time they do that, i feel the sharp of pain and of embarrassment. by reading others’ comments, it’s good to know that i’m not alone.

    • No, my friend, you absolutely are not alone. Thanks for sharing and for your comment.

      • storiesaboutfreeingthisboy says:

        one friend of mine recently asked for my permission for her to correct some people who would refer me as my mom’s daughter. she would say that i’m my mom’s son and end of discussion; leaving them to ask me questions. i gave her the permission and felt respected! i wonder if she have read this blog…

  51. Sheherazod says:

    I’ve been reading this blog and I find it so sad that people looking to live by , and honor their true selves still have to hide from the bullish, deragotory, closeminded, selfishness of other people in the world. This is after all 2012, and all so called dysmorphia of sexualism has been recognized way before this century even as far back as the Romans. All discrimination should be oust whether religion ,race ,creed or species. We should have 0 tolerance for abuse and discrimination. Although, I see the need for your article and the many fine points in it it just saddens me to no end that it needed to be written. Whatever happened to MYOB, people certainly seem to do that when they see an act of discrimination and look the other way. I applaud all those that are different, are proud of being different, and choose to find the road to their true happiness, it is horrible anyone would be hateful of that!

    • Amen.

      Unfortunately, we’re dealing with humans…

    • Maz Knight says:

      I applaud your attitude and that you are willing to say this to the world. Well intentioned friends can be accidentally harmfull thinking that they are helping. It happened to me while I was going through the diagnosis procedure for gender dysphoria. A good friend was helping me come out in the town where I now live and a work colleague saw me and my friend on this particular Saturday. By Monday morning the whole company knew. I had previously talked to the company’s owner and he was happy for me to continue working for him. He met up with me to tell me what had happened. My plans for a dignified coming out were blown to pieces and attitudes from some middle management level staff changed for the worse. My fellow drivers were mostly supportive and were eager to know how I was going to cope with it. If it wasn’t for the attitudes of those certain managers, I would probably have still been working for them if my ill health hadn’t got in the way.

  52. Cristian says:

    ATM–This was an incredibly informative post. I took a lot away from this and will pass it on for others to read. Thanks for sharing.

  53. Alex says:

    I quite literally think the opposite of so many of the things you put here. I’m a transman, I have been out as trans for many years, and I really think that these “14 Reasons” imply that it is a negative thing to be out as trans! I think to imply that everyone does not want their trans status to be disclosed is extremely offensive, especially in terms of telling that to a potential partner. I personally would be very appreciative if somebody got the awkwardness of me coming out to a potential partner out of the way for me. I think that the Reasons completely make an assumption that a potential partner will no longer be interested once they discover that you are trans. I don’t think people necessarily will be telling your potential lover that you’re trans because they’re sure they won’t be into it. Maybe it’s just a fact about you that they think your potential partner might want to know, not because they’ll like you any less for it, but just because it’s info about you. To say, “how can you know with certainty that the potential suitor won’t find their body appealing?” implies that people will definitely be instantly turned off after discovering you’re trans. It’s not about that. It’s about knowing what’s what. And to imply that tranny “chasers” or “admirers” are somehow offensive I also think is very unfair. Surely whenever anybody sleeps with anybody they to a certain extent are “objectify”-ing and “sexualize”-ing them! Don’t trans people have as much of a right to be seen as sexy for being themselves, and by being themselves being trans, as anyone else does?

    • Hi Alex. Thanks for your comments. I’m afraid, however, that you’ve misconstrued my meaning on a number of points.

      First, I am not implying that it’s negative to be out as trans. I am saying that someone shouldn’t disclose a trans person’s trans status without asking first, and I gave 14 reasons why. This is no judgement on being out as trans – only a request for the courtesy of not outing someone without their permission and why that’s important. You are out. Great! Be out. Not everyone is out and of those who are, they might want to choose for themselves when and where to out themselves rather than have someone do it without their knowledge or permission.

      Second, I also never said in my post that “everyone does not want their trans status to be disclosed.” In fact, I made it pretty clear that I was not speaking for everyone and that some trans people don’t mind being out.

      Third, I never made an assumption that a potential partner will no longer be interested once they discover that a person is trans. In fact, I argued just the opposite of that. My point was that the person who does the outing of the trans person might think that and they shouldn’t. And if you don’t mind that your friends are outing you to potential partners so you don’t have to do it yourself, then you can tell all your friends to out you as trans – I’m not sure what my blog post does to alter that. Not every trans person feels the way you do about being outed and those are the people my post is about.

      Lastly, I never said that chasers or admirers are offensive, and I was pretty clear that people might classify them as admirers or chasers, which means that some might not. I also was pretty clear that not all non-trans people with trans attractions would fall into those categories. In addition, I gave links to Matt Kailey’s blog posts that provide, in my opinion, an open and objective point of view about people with trans attractions (did you read Matt’s posts?) and talk about how some trans people are intrigued by non-trans folks with trans attractions and some are not. I did not go into that kind of detail because I didn’t need to- Matt already did.

      Overall, I think that you’ve misinterpreted the meaning of a number of points in my post. I hope my reply has helped to make these points clearer.

      • Hi again Alex. I gave this some more thought after sleeping on it and went back and changed the point about people with trans attractions. Rather than presume that people are going to read Matt Kailey’s posts on the subject, I decided to make my point more balanced and mention that some trans people like to date non-trans people with trans attractions. Thanks again for your comments.

        • Alex says:

          Thank you for your civil response and I appreciate the edits that you have made. I personally feel that while I may have misinterpreted your intended meaning, that is not through any fault of mine but rather because of the fact that I don’t think you make it as clear as you think you do that you are not talking about every trans person. The very title of this – “14 Reasons Why It’s Not Ok To Out Someone As Trans” – does not make this clear! It is not called “14 Reasons Why It’s Not Ok To Out A Stealth Trans Person” and I feel that this mood is reflected throughout the rest of the post.
          My comment on the unmatch-making was based especially on this point: “Perhaps you think that the trans person’s body might not be what the other person expects, but unless you have seen the trans person naked, you do not know what their body looks like, and even if you have, how can you know with certainty that the potential suitor won’t find their body appealing?” I think ultimately telling somebody that someone is trans is not necessarily about whether you think that this potential lover will be repulsed or not, it’s about them just knowing that this person is a transman or transwoman, not a cis man or woman. So whether or not the potential lover finds it appealing isn’t an issue – they can’t make up their mind either way if they aren’t told you’re trans. But I appreciate your point that much like any medical information it is the trans person’s business to mention in their own time, as, for all the person who does the telling knows, the trans person was going to mention it soon. However, I think it’s something which is going to have to come up either way and to be honest it doesn’t make any difference to me if a friend tells someone I’m considering dating I’m trans, just in the interest of telling them stuff about me, and they get a negative reaction or I tell that person and I get a negative reaction – either way I now no longer want to date that person. Equally well, it doesn’t bother me if a friend or I receive a positive reaction – either way, then I’ll know that person is still a potential dating candidate. If they’re a transphobe, you’re going to find out sooner or later and then if you’re smart cross them the hell off your list of possible partners…

          • Dude, my post has nothing to do with being stealth. I am out, I’m not stealth, but I still don’t want people outing me without my permission. I want to choose who learns my private information and and I don’t want someone else making that decision for me. If you don’t give a damn if someone outs you without your permission, fine, but I am not of that opinion and neither are a bunch of other trans folks, which should be pretty obvious from the comments on this blog post.

            And if the reasons I give here as to why people shouldn’t out us as trans don’t matter to you, that doesn’t mean that they’re not legitimate reasons. It only means that you don’t care whether people respect them.

            As for making it clear that I am not speaking for every trans person,right above Reason #1 I wrote:

            “I should also mention that pretty much everything you’ll read here is my opinion and I do not speak for all trans people.”

            I don’t think I can be any clearer than that.

            • Alex says:

              Alright mate, calm down. Then everything I think is just MY opinion and in my opinion you are representing being trans as this horrific thing that everyone should want to hide. I have been in the trans community long enough to know that these are legitimate reasons, thank you VERY much, please do not patronise my experience. You don’t know what I’ve been through or what I feel about being trans and to be honest it doesn’t matter to this discussion. What matters to me is that your blog represents these reasons as gospel and I see your blog post all over everyone’s tumblr so evidently everyone’s reading it and it bothers me that potentially people who don’t know as much as I and perhaps you (I know nothing about your life) do about being trans will be interpreting this as the way everybody feels.

              • “I should also mention that pretty much everything you’ll read here is my opinion and I do not speak for all trans people.”

              • Sorry, that probably came off as flippant and that’s not my intention.

                But truly, I do not see how I represent being trans as an horrific thing, keeping in mind that you, yourself, have agreed that these reasons are legitimate, and I don’t see how I am implying that everyone should want to hide being trans. My post is not about being stealth or being in the closet. In fact, I mention several times in the post about trans people being ‘out.’ My post is about common courtesy and respect of not outing a trans person without their permission and why.

                And, as I mentioned before, I stated at the beginning of my post that I don’t speak for all trans people, I stated at the end that some people will not agree, and I tried my best to not speak in absolutes, inserting caveats like, “some people” or “may” or “might” throughout the reasons. I revised one reason because of your comment, but I’m not sure what else exactly you expect me to do or say. The fact that my blog post has been re-posted on a bunch of Tumblr accounts and other blogs is something I did not foresee and was surprised by, to be honest. What that says to me, however, is that people agree with what I’ve written, and although I am not speaking for you or anyone else, perhaps these folks on Tumblr and elsewhere are using my words to help them speak for themselves.

  54. Tree says:

    I am a part of a group called Project Embrace SA-we advocate for LGBT youth in the foster care/adoption system by providing this type information to people involved with these youths! I am passing this on to our training coordinator (of course giving you due props)!

    Keep on writing …

    Tree

  55. justanotherperson says:

    GOOD blog.. if there was a way for this to be shared without getting outed anyway lol.. I’d do it. Where was this blog oh.. at least last year. I’ve have 2 friends (that I know of) who blatantly outed me to people THEY know but *I* don’t know (other than through said friends’ comments)- I would have sent this to them. I whole heartedly agree with the “Don’t out without my permission” – Its my life- I should be able to choose who knows and who doesn’t and when. I also agree with the brief bit about “poster child syndrome”- after a while the trans person does get tired of it (well some..); its even tougher when you are also part of a subculture– such as oh… african-american, Asian, deaf etc.
    Thank you for this- I commend you on your writing.

  56. ShySkyGuy says:

    Just read this blog post via Tumblr. I would like to thank you for posting this. As a non-trans man I found it very informative. I have a couple of trans friends, and I will always respect their privacy. For a while now I’ve been reading about Trans people so that I can educate myself and be respectful to my fairly recent friends (I’ve known one for about 3 years and the other for almost a year). They’re the first and only trans friends I have, so I was very confused at first. I knew I had to be more informed if I was to really become friends with them. I think this post was a very helpful step in my education of Trans people. I myself, am gay, so Trans people are a part of my (OUR) community, and I feel it’s important to understand, respect and love our Trans friends. So thank you, this post meant a lot to me. :)

  57. Eric Grivel says:

    Great post, and a lot of food for thought. I learned a lot from this post, but it also raised questions for me. In particular, questions about the gray area, where to draw the line. I apologize if I ask for things that should be obvious; this discussion is quite new to me. As a parent of a gay (not trans) kid, I have been struggling with similar questions, which makes me wonder how parents of trans children deal with the “outing” question, in particular in this era of electronic presence. I have a lot of photos of my children, and many of them on-line. Should I be removing old family photos? Changing captions? Wouldn’t that be amounting to re-writing history? How about our blogs about our family vacations? As I said, your post made me wonder about all of this…

    • Thanks for the comments/questions (which I assume were not rhetorical). No need to apologize. If these issues were obvious, I wouldn’t have needed to write the post.

      I think the question about whether to post photographs and personal information about people on-line is always a good one to ask, whether the people in the images, especially children, are GLBT or not. As for the rest, it’s hard for me to say because I don’t know who is in the photos, what the captions say, where they are posted and who can view them. I mean, do the photo captions say anything like, “This is my gay child”? I would hope not. Unless you’re posting photographs of your gay child with their partner and it’s obvious that they are partners — then there might not be a disclosure issue.

      On the other hand, you might be writing a blog about your experiences of being the parent of a gay child. If you are, your blog can be easily anonymized. There are plenty of anonymous blogs written by parents about their gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender children or by GLBT parents writing about themselves and their families. Check out theadventuresoftransman.com and transbeautiful.wordpress.com for examples.

      In those types of blos, the history doesn’t change, just the level of disclosure of the personal information. I personally don’t see this as a question of rewriting history as much as respecting privacy. You wouldn’t be changing history or falsifying it — just making it less accessible to the masses.

      When posting photographs and personal information, I use the rule that the question should probably go to the people involved as to whether they’re comfortable having their images, names and/or personal details posted on-line. I never post photographs on-line without the permission of the people who are in them, and I have found photographs of myself posted on-line without my permission and have asked the person who posted them to take them down. If I plan to write a post containing a quote that someone has said to me, I ask them if it’s okay with them if I post it on my blog before I even write it out. But that’s just me – I am very conservative in that regard. Other people are not.

      This has become a much longer response than I planned,. Ultimately, I don’t know how much my opinion matters about your blog posts and on-line photographs. But I’m glad that my blog post is at least inducing you (and others) to think about this topic a bit more than you otherwise might have.

  58. Pingback: How do I talk about you in the past? | Becoming Aaron

  59. Good one. As a transgender female, for me personally, it doesn’t really bother me, mainly because I don’t give a rats rear end what people think, but not everyone has my go to he** drop dead attitude. So, please respect people and their right to privacy. Thank you.

  60. Cassie says:

    Thanks for a great post. It is difficult to know how to handle protecting your friends. I would not want to out someone who does not wish to be outed, but at the same time, having a very protective personality, it’s hard to just let a friend walk into a situation that may be dangerous to them. My head knows it’s not my place, but my heart wants to get in the way!

  61. Daniel says:

    Every time you say “Trans person” I imagine a person who has transformed into another species. Or a pig that has been transformed into a human.

    Also, I will ask whatever questions I wish to any individual that I have ever met that may or may not be the gender of their selection or birth. I will out people as trans because if they are ashamed of themselves being outed, that’s fucking stupid. Sure, they get discriminated, but there’s no reason that it can’t be fixed. I’m sure there would be a safety net of people that will accept them as who they are.

    Being in the closet enforces discrimination. Allowing yourself to lie and say “I’m just like the majority, don’t mind me.”

    • Constance says:

      Since the blog entry was referring to a “well-meaning friend”, I’m assuming, Daniel, that we trans people have little to worry about from you. You are not well-meaning, nor do you have what it takes to be a friend. Who knows, maybe a pig can eventually transform into a person. Let us know when that happens for you. Don’t mind me? Don’t mind you.

    • Daniel, you smell like a troll. Why don’t you move along and stop being such a disappointment to your mother?

    • Well, Daniel, since we’re on the subject of outing: Congratulations, you’ve just outed yourself as an inconsiderate asshole with no reading comprehension skills. To resolve this condition: get to know others who are different from you in various ways, particularly in ways that you find uncomfortable, and take the time to read and learn more about things that you clearly do not understand. And until then…well, there’s old advice about listening twice as much as you speak that i highly recommend.

  62. Liz says:

    This was a really good post. I’ve put a lot of effort into being an ally for my trans friends and I think this post illuminated for me when it might be too much effort and crossing the line into meddling (one example I can think of – trying to brief my roommates on gender neutral pronouns/correct pronoun usage before a guest who uses them arrives, without discussing with that person first, or explaining to a small child ahead of time that someone is trans and what that means and not to make comments). I like what you said about leaving specific people out of lessons. Really, it is a good reminder to address these things with people before they come up, even if it seems out of the blue.

    I think the line between standing up for someone/being an ally and taking power away from them can often be blurry, and I mean that in the broadest, most general way, not just with regard to outing or trans people, but also in situations for instance gender/possible or borderline sexual harassment situations with strangers, or in the leadership of organizations. There are lots of unresolved questions about the issue but I think your post makes a valuable contribution to people’s thought process around this debate.

  63. Ryan b says:

    This was very thorough! Bravo for spreading the word! As a gay man from Georgia, I’m a close friend to feelings of public scrutiny, awkward vibes, and general ignorance when it comes to what is/isn’t offensive.. Oh and every fucking straight girl wants to be your friend.. Lol i got a bit off topic, but I’m glad I read this because even as a member of the LGBT community, with a similar quality of experience, our hardships are nonetheless different in various ways. I haven’t had the pleasure of having a transgendered friend but with my gossipy ass, I know I would have pissed off/offended them by unnecessary outings and the like.. Overall I feel a bit more informed and all of ya’ll are beautiful boys and girls! <3

  64. afropaleo says:

    I guess I’ll be the outlier here. I refuse to not be out as a trans guy. I am also black and if I was really light-skinned I would never pass as white, either. Why would I want to appropriate cis gender privilege? It’s not always safe or easy to be black, but I refuse to be anything I’m not just to play it safe and take the easy way out.

    • I wouldn’t say that you’re an outlier. This blog post is not about being out. It’s about being outed.

      I’m not saying that trans people should or should not be out. I’m saying that other people should not make that decision for us and out us without our permission.

    • EstebanJ says:

      So you don’t mind if your friends start telling others if you have AIDS, asking and answering questions about your genitals, talking about when you will have your “sex change operation” to become fully as man (as cis people tend to say), etc?

      It’s not about privilege, it’s about being a good friend.

  65. Pingback: Psych Appointment and Coming Out on Facebook | BecomingTheRealNicky

  66. Pingback: Outing Others | And then I woke up

  67. Samuel says:

    I have an ex who is outing me to a few people because in her eyes my transition involved her also and she says she has the “right” to out me because it’s her history.
    Personally, and we have argued manys a time over this, I don’t think it is her story to share with people who I don’t know….
    So although I am not wanting people to take sides here but who really is right?….because she was part of my life pre and early transition does that give her the right to be able to out me?

    Answers on a postcard to……..

    • Well, Samuel, as the author of the post, I might be a bit biased with my answer, but I’m happy to share my opinion.

      There are many private things that couples share and know about each other, things about their partners that they certainly wouldn’t share with others when they’re together, and if they possess any class at all, won’t share after they split. That’s mutual respect and consideration for the other person which, one would hope, would continue even after a break-up.

      And so if you went through a transition, whether it was medical or social or both, yes, she experienced it with you, she might have even assisted you with it, and she has her own story from it (which, by the way, is not the same as telling *your* story), but your privacy, in my opinion, should take priority.

      Likewise, if she experienced a medical or social issue while you two were together, and you witnessed it and even assisted her with it, you could argue that it’s ‘your’ history too (although I personally don’t agree with that), and so how would she feel if you were to talk about it to other people? The bottom line is that she obviously doesn’t care about or respect your privacy.

    • EstebanJ says:

      Would your ex be happy if you start talking with others about how her vagina looks, or about any physical thing she has, like a false teeth, hemorrhoids, etc?

      I don’t think so.

      Then why she thinks she can share your private medical history with other people?

  68. I just wanted to say at least on point 6. /

    I don’t mind if a long time friend outs me as trans. Becuase usally it leads to them being surprized and they wouldn’t of know. And then that experince really made my friend get it. They felt really bad but sometimes you need to go through things like that to make friendships stronger.

    I don’t know if that makes any sense but I just through I’d throw that out there. It’s not like if you break one of these rules a trans person would hate for forever. Just keep sanity in check and don’t freak out, and that means you too.

  69. sry about typos no edit button? : (

  70. Thanks for your comment Jaryn. I understand what you mean. That particular point is different for you and your friends. However, I never say in the post, or even imply, that a trans person (myself included) would not “keep their sanity in check” or “freak out” if they were outed, or “hate forever” someone who outed them. In fact, I am still friends with the person I mentioned in the beginning of the post who outed me, which is what motivated me to write this list in the first place.

    No worries about the typos. I don’t know why there isn’t an edit button…

  71. Merle says:

    I know this is an older article, but really is the first time I have been able to discuss/let out how difficult it was for me as the partner of a “transman”. I am a lesbian and if I had a dollar for every time I heard “you are dating men now?” I would be rich. I lost a fair part of my community in the process of loving this man. My friends didn’t understand, my family didn’t understand. I had a hard time keeping the information private. I did, but it cost. We are no longer together. I keep his privacy still.

    • Thank you for your comment and for respecting your partner’s privacy.

      One question that arises reading your comment. Do you think that your friends and family would have understood any better if you had been able to tell them that your partner was a trans man, considering that would still mean you were with a man?

      • Benji says:

        I have a question about this specifically. A lesbian roommate of mine was pretty hatefully misandrist. Gay, straight, bi, whatever, we were all assholes. Fast forward a year later, and she’s dating a trans man. This is kind of the opposite of what your article is about, but I feel like “outing” her worldview to her bf. On one hand, maybe she has drastically changed (and the world is a better place). On the other, I can’t imagine she actually has, and this appears to me a pretty compelling reason to believe that she doesn’t view her bf as a man at all. I know sexuality is fluid, but this relationship pops into my head whenever a self-avowed lesbian starts to date a trans man. It makes me want to “protect” the trans person, which admittedly is probably not my job. I mean, if you are a lesbian, and you’re dating a trans man, this issue will come up. It seems disingenuous to not just state, “Yes, this time I’m dating a man.” Long-winded, but thoughts?

  72. JBCreek says:

    Only found this just now after a friend shared it on fb. Very good piece. One question I have – if flat out asked “Is person X trans?”, what would you say would be the best way to respond? I ask because I suspect that a refusal to answer would be taken as a “yes” by a lot of people.

    • I have been asked that question before. People get curious whether a friend of mine they’ve just met is trans. I have used all of these responses:

      “Why does that matter?”
      Of course, it doesn’t matter so they’ll make a feeble response and then I don’t answer the question.

      “If someone ever asks you that question about me, I hope that you will protect my privacy and not out me as trans.”
      That gets the message across and also reinforces your own privacy, but only works if you’re trans and the person posing the question knows it.

      “You should ask them such a personal question, not me.”
      They usually respond something about not wanting to pry or ask something like that directly and then I reply “If you don’t feel comfortable asking them then it’s the type of question you shouldn’t be asking me.”

      One response I haven’t had a chance to try yet that a friend recommended. Just acknowledge the question by saying, “That’s a really interesting question,” and then either change the subject or walk away. That should get the message across that you’re not going to answer. I don’t know whether that teaches anyone anything though about why you’re not going to answer or why the question was inappropriate.

    • EstebanJ says:

      Is very simple. If someone asks you “Does that person has cancer/AIDS?” What would you respond, knowing that the answer is yes.

      A refusal would be taken as a “yes” by a lot of people. but answering yes is outing a very personal information of this person.

      • JBCreek says:

        Oh, I agree, I wasn’t trying to suggest that “Yes” was the right answer either – rather if there were ways of not answering without having people jump to conclusions.

  73. Just came across your article today. Excellent Job! Very articulate, complete and explanatory without coming across as condescending or angry. I will save, site and use your words to educate others when someone else’s words would be better received than my own. Still have friends and family members who do not understand why outing someone is like a cardinal sin.

    I identify as lesbian and my spouse of 18 years just came out as a transman 6 months ago. It has been anything but easy, however, luckily I was previously well versed on the topic which afforded me a deeper understanding from the beginning. Having had this background education, understanding and empathy towards the trans community made all the difference in the world in how I related to and supported my husband as well as how I was able to cope with his revelation.

    Education and Empathy is the key to EVERY misunderstood issue in our World as far as I am concerned. Thank you so much for being a part of the solution!

  74. Chia Clousing says:

    A Load of crap hiding the truth is detrimental to the fight for equality. One thing I have learned in my many years on this earth is being completely truthful brings more understanding from people than when they find out the secret your so ashamed of. Most TS attacks are from people who find out from others and when that happens they feel stupid because 1 they didn’t know and 2 you didn’t tell them. When you are strong enough to stand up and be 100% truthful about yourself, you will not become a victim, you become an educator. Take pride in who you are and what you are. Take pride in the journey and from where you came. I promise you when you own the situation it will not own you. There is freedom in truth!

    • You’re missing the point. I’m not saying don’t be out. I’m saying that a person should make that choice for themselves. What’s not okay is when someone else outs you without your permission.

  75. Chia Clousing says:

    There is no shame in being Trans so quit living like there is!

  76. Erica Cook says:

    I don’t have a point so much as an awkward situation I had happen with a friend and the ex-husband of my sister. I always new my friend as female and I happened to know a lot about her personal situation because I was who she talked to about things she was dealing with. One day out of nowhere my sister’s ex says, “You know,(Fill in man’s name) I stood there a bit dumbfounded, I actually knew her male name and I wasn’t sure what to say. She frequented the business he worked at before transitioning, and had gone in assuming no one would recognise her. Apparently she meantioned me so he added up that she was a friend of mine, but I don’t think she he knew who she was.

    I did the only thing I knew to do which was to tell him her name and that she was a woman, and to please refer to her that way. This lead to one of the stranger conversations I’ve had with him. him asking how far she had taken it and so on. Weather I know or not my answer to more prying questions is, “I don’t ask those things.” But honestly, what if you are confronted like this. In general I follow the curtesy of refering to a person by the gender they present themselves as. if I do call a MTF he and an FTM she by mistake its best to know I do the same to siz people.

  77. Alexandrea says:

    A most splendid piece. I wonder if it would be OK to use it to educate the ignorant. I’m tried of the hate crime form them and maybe this will also help educate the police. Thank you for putting all this into print. Have a great day. Be Splendid.

  78. Kelly says:

    I want to start by saying that it is so important to not out trans or gay people at any time even if they are already out and very open. Now that being said… something in this has really upset me. #1 says Safety First, with in the first line you give a person’s name, age, gender and school he attends and then two others are listed with some of the same info. How can you say not to out someone for safety and then list this type of info? Granted what is listed here is a few years old but it could have been written better. Take the first person you talked about… You could have simply said that a 27 year old tans person was attracted while on a school campus a few years ago. With the way that this is written, while reading it on my phone I was able to click on each name and it then took me to more news reports for each person.
    My husband is trans, I’m a dyke (this is how I identify), we are VERY out and do a lot of public speaking to help educate people about the trans community. For safety reasons we never tell people where we live, work or go to school. We know that not everyone is as accepting as we’d all like and the last thing we want is for one or both of us to end up another statistic. This article is very hypocritical in and of itself.

    • Thank you Kelly for a very interesting comment that really got me thinking. You make a point worth considering.

      When I first wrote that piece, the violent incidents I had listed in the post were recent and fairly widespread in the media. It wasn’t me who outed these folks as trans – the media had already done that. It also wasn’t me who provided their names, ages and locations – the media had done that as well. What I had done was mention them and link to the media reports, which is why you got more information when you clicked on their names in my blog post – I put those links in the post and chose the best-written pieces I could find that used correct pronouns and showed some respect to the victims of the violence.

      But now that some time has passed, your comment has me wondering whether am I jeopardizing the safety of these trans folks by keeping the information in my blog post. Along those same lines, one could ask whether the media reports of those incidents, which are forever burned into the Internet, are also jeopardizing the victims’ safety. Should I be conscious of that as a blogger when media outlets are not?

      I also considered your suggestion about anonymizing the stories by removing the names of the trans folks and their locations, and I have two points to make about that:

      First, by removing their names, I think it dehumanizes the victims. They become less than real people and the stories lose their humanity and impact. However, I acknowledge that the victims themselves might wish for these stories to go away and I’m not helping with that by keeping my post as is, with their information still available. I also acknowledge, though, that the victims might *want* these stories to stay visible and on peoples’ minds so we remain outraged and talking about violence toward trans people, *these* people, so it doesn’t happen again. The bottom line is that the only way I can know which scenario the victims themselves prefer (leave their names in my post or remove them) would be to ask them directly. Otherwise, I am making assumptions, whether I leave the information there or remove it.

      Second, even if I were to remove the names of the trans people in these reports and wrote it like you suggested, the information can still easily be found about their names and locations. Try it yourself. Google what you wrote in your comment, “27 year old trans person attacked while on school campus” and you’ll see that the media reports come up about the same people I mentioned in my post, as well as other news stories about other, more recent incidents where trans people have been victims of violent crimes. That information is out there and whether I give the names or not, anyone who wants to find the details can easily do so on the Internet.

      So I am going to continue to think about your comment and talk about it with some colleagues in the community, but at the moment, I do not have data to show that leaving that information in the blog post jeopardizes anyone’s safety or that removing it improves their safety.

      I am open to hearing more on this point though if you or any other readers have counterpoints that I hadn’t considered. Thank you again for bringing this up.

  79. Anonymous says:

    I just found this, and it’s an excellent PSA. I have a few trans friends, only one of whom is entirely out about her trans status… and I don’t even speak of /her/ to others about her trans status. Brilliant and timely. Thank you so much. I’ve shared this on Twitter and Facebook in hopes that it might educate even one more person.

  80. Some Rude Tranny Who Refuses To Invite Strangers Into Her Doctor's Office Or Into Her Pants says:

    Oh, come on. Didn’t you ever the movie “Scanners” back in about 1980? It’s a lot like that. If somebody knows this piece of information, it causes a rapid buildup of pressure inside their skull. They simply MUST open their mouths to let out that information, to relieve the pressure. If they don’t, then their heads will literally explode.

    Anyway, your list here is largely about the general principle of respecting the fact that some things are private, and that personal information belongs to the individual. A big part of the problem is that, people often do not respect any privacy about any issue. They feel entitled to know and gossip about all manner of other types of personal data, including other types of medical issues.

  81. Pingback: Outing a Trans Person is an Act of Violence | Trans*forming Family

  82. aaronsaari says:

    Thank you for such a well-written and informative blog post! I’m an ally, and I’ve served on the pastoral staff at two churches that are fully inclusive (although there are always mistakes made and things to learn) to the trans* community. But I’m a cisgendered man and I found myself recoiling as I read your blog because I’ve done some of the things you describe (inadvertent outing; assuming that gender politics are a 24/7 project for all my trans* friends). I’ve had to be honest with myself that, with each of my trans* friends, there comes a point in which I essentialize them based upon my assumptions about gender identity. I can honestly say that I see them as the gender they present (and I really don’t look at “passing”), but there comes a point in which “trans” comes into play when I’m talking about “my friend.” I modify the word friend with trans* when it is not necessary. I never realized it until now.

    I’ve read your piece twice and posted it on my FB page. I plan to read it again, and I’m really grateful to you for so eloquently raising these issues and providing your thoughts on really important stuff.

    Aaron

  83. Allie says:

    Thank you for this informative article. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to be more discreet in discussing (or NOT discussing) a person’s gender status with another person I may happen to know is in the same boat. I will keep this in mind, as I’ve gotten a reputation for being trans friendly. (Um, no, not really. I didn’t think so, anyway, I’m simply PEOPLE friendly, and strongly egalitarian in the “do unto others” department. It genuinely doesn’t matter to me what’s in your drawers, nor should it.) I have been sought out and befriended by some who have told me so. I can appreciate this. It always feels good to be treated as one should be. I try to be considerate with respect to trans issues, and I’m grateful for articles like this one, which I have shared on my Facebook page.

  84. a little bit anonymous says:

    Thanks for a good read!
    This was really helpfull information for me as I want to be as supportive as possible for my friend and not make any mistakes just for their sake and safety.

  85. It’s bittersweet to be discovering this article now, seeing that it was written a couple of years ago, which means there is still a long ways for folks to go when it comes to “getting” this… That being said it’s a great piece and I’ll be certain to share it with my readers… I’m currently putting together training resources for mental health counselors who want to work with transgender clients so you’ve given me lots to think about for that as well :)

  86. Lynnalynn says:

    That number 6, I have such a problem with number 6 it is unbelievable. I have some really great friends, but they all assume that I don’t look feminine enough sometimes, though I am constantly being told by people that they would of never known if I or someone else hadn’t told them…..or if my legal name was changed and apps didn’t have my birth name on it. So thank you for mentioning that issue, it really is a big one!

    • You’re welcome. Yeah, I hate number 6…

      • Lynnalynn says:

        I have a friend who constantly insists that I don’t look feminine enough to be serious about things…but then when I go out, if people find out they are so surprised that I am trans….I keep telling this friend of mine that she is just seeing what she is used to seeing, and that I have come a long way (or at least as for as being public for a year and a half and 5 months of hormones will allow one to come)…I don’t know, I just don’t know

  87. dragonet2 says:

    This is a good post. I fortunately haven’t met many people who are obsessed with ‘outing’ anyone. I have several friends who have gone through the transition both ways. I had a tiff with one because in the NRE phase of their starting testosterone they were being an annoying git, in close work quarters, but they got over it.

    And I LOATHE anyone using the word Tranny in any context except referring to a vehicle’s transmission. I’m even kind of squicked about people who are Trans using it, but they at least have a right to say it. Maybe.

  88. Jonah Falcon says:

    Nice article. It can apply to anything, really. Sexuality, HIV status, nationality, religion, and so on, though with transgendered there’s a lot more baggage (and greater degree of potential violence and discrimination) involved.

  89. eieio says:

    Points #4 and #5 will take some time for me to suss out. These seem to imply that one’s love for their trans friends is automatically guaranteed to be less than that of what they feel for their non-trans friends. Gender identity is far, far from being so small an issue that we could simply gloss over or ignore it. If trans people love, and respect the judgment of, their non-trans friends, I’d think they’d trust us to handle such an issue gingerly, if called for, but in any case with due respect. Such is the trust for a friend. Their _personal_ feelings trump that of any etiquette lecture that must pigeonhole them as a group, no? And are we not trusted to be more sensitive to ther _personal_ feelings than with a stranger’s opinion, however studied? I know trans folks that are rowdier, more intense and fearless than most of my other friends. Whether they carry a handgun for the protection they know the cops won’t provide, or, in the case of women, bare their breasts along with all of the born-girls at a wild party, I say their judgement of a situation is what I’ll follow.

    I am Mr. Straight White (Rural-born!) American Male, and I think a huge problem is that we grow up with hetero/cis-normative fairy tales, and it’s not that we hate ourselves for being non-straight or otherly-identified, but that we grew up without any alternative to daydream about. (I apologize if I’m naive of academic terminology.) Imagine stories involving two Prince Charmings, two Snow Whites, two magical trans people, defined by their deeds and words rather than by whatever superficial traits focused on by the dominating hierarchy…what peace there would be!

    Let’s face it, friends talk about friends, hopefully in only the most well-meaning ways, but still…how can we ignore a core quality of someone’s identity? If I feared that a non-trans friend would react sourly, I’d either use my discretion in what was divulged, or write them off as bigoted. Who of my friends would not trust me that far? It’s not like I’m going to spout willy-nilly, holding a megaphone, and causing my friends any undue discomfort.

    • Thanks for your comment eieio. With all due respect, that’s a whole lotta rationalization so you can justify doing what *you* want rather than asking your trans friends what they prefer you to do with *their* personal information. It’s so simple – why not be polite and respectful and ask them? If you really don’t want to cause your trans friends any undue discomfort, as you say, then ask them what would cause them “undue discomfort” rather than pretend that you know best when to disclose personal information that’s, frankly, not yours to disclose. You wouldn’t be “glossing over or ignoring” your trans friends’ gender identity if you gave them the courtesy of respecting their privacy about their gender identity. Sure, “friends talk about friends” — they do when they are self-serving and using their privilege to rationalize their oppression. I will kindly suggest that some non-trans people are bold to make assumptions that their trans friends “trust them ” to out them only in the best possible way rather than assume that their trans friends would trust them NOT to out them at all.

  90. Cinder McDonald says:

    Good article, but no, you definitely don’t speak for non-binary folks and our struggles are different from those who are binary. Maybe you didn’t know any non-binary folks at the time you wrote the article. I hope you take the time to meet some, and hear their point of view. From my POV, there is no such thing as non-binary “passing” and there is no such thing as non-binary “outing”. The outside world will misgender me for the rest of my life. Because of my health, I am not able to be on hormones, nor am I able to have top surgery. So my outside appearance doesn’t match, will never match and yet I still live my life authentically. I can not change the entire world singlehandedly, but I can have expectations of myself and of those who care for me. I don’t educate 100% of the time, I work on the ripple effect, I conserve my resources and I work at working smarter, not harder.

    I respect others’ wishes about not being outed. However, my truth is, I’m someone who is passionate about building community. The reality of my life is that I’ve chosen to be a visible person. People who are around me will be more visible by default, whether they are cis, trans or non-binary. Someone who transitions, then goes and hides out in the cis shadows, doesn’t bother to give back to the community or pay it forward when they could if they wanted to….hey that is their prerogative….I won’t out them, but I sure as hell have much use or respect for them either. Not when there are people dying, people suffering, injustice everywhere.

    • Thanks Cinder for your comment, some of it anyway.

      Regarding your assumption that I do not know non-binary folks, there is nothing in my post that says I have never talked to non-binary people or listened to their point of view, or that I don’t know the struggles of non-binary people. That’s a poor assumption on your part. I lived without hormones or surgery for years, by choice, in a non-binary space, and I also could not bind for medical reasons. You are entitled to your opinion that non-binary “passing” doesn’t exist and that non-binary “outing” doesn’t exist, but my experience was to the contrary. When I was living androgynously, I was not perceived as trans because non-trans people didn’t associate my gender variance with a trans identity. Many saw me as a butch lesbian or a feminine, boyish gay man, or they couldn’t tell what my gender was, or they didn’t really think about it other than I was a woman who was not very feminine. In all of those ways, I was “passing” because hardly anyone, to my knowledge, ever suspected I was trans. When I came out, not one single person of the hundreds I came out to said to me, “Oh yeah, I knew you were trans.” Hell, even the butch lesbians thought I was a butch lesbian despite my never being in the lesbian community. If that isn’t passing as cis, I don’t know what is. And because I was not perceived as trans, I could have been outed as trans. So perhaps for you, passing and being outed don’t exist, but they were very real experiences for me and are for other non-binary trans people I know.

      As for medically transitioned trans people “hiding in the shadows” and not giving back to the community, there are many ways to build community that don’t involve being out or visible and that cannot be seen or even judged. The smallest act may have large, positive consequences for our community, and you cannot possibly see them all or be in a position to judge their merit.

      Lastly, I will say that a number of people have interpreted this particular blog post to mean that I am saying that trans people should not be out. I defy anyone to find the message in my words. I am not saying that people should be out, and I am not saying that people should not be out. What I am saying is that no one should be outed as trans without their permission. That’s it. That’s the take home message.

  91. And I now regret every person I’ve come out to recently because I’m terribly trusting but now scared to death. Information is now out of my control! Thankfully most of my friends are amazing and active in the LGBT* community. My family, however, is another matter entirely. I need to staple this post to the forehead of everyone I tell. Yep. That’s the logical answer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s